Chapter 32: The Sky Brings Claustrophobia To Death

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Prophecy:

There will be six at the beginning and at the end.

One will be enemy and one will be friend.

A choice be made; heart or mind.

The lover's ears be deaf and eyes be blind.

Misleading will he try to thee.

For much is the Pit God's unease.

For an ancient god will pave.

A looming final path: destroy or save.

Chapter 32:

As the light blinded Nico's vision, he felt the world around him collapse, making him feel like he was being crushed by a skyscraper. His bones and muscles screamed in pain as he felt like he was being suffocated. The son of Hades's heart pounded with fear, confusion and terror spiraling around in his mind like a tornado. Straining with effort to keep himself from crushing, his chest burned with the lack of oxygen.

As precious seconds ticked away, Nico felt his end nearing, his vision filled with bright, white light dimming and heart slowing. The force trying to break his body pressed him lower and lower onto the ground, his chest now melding into the cold earth. Bracing for the end, he closed his eyes.

But before Nico could pass out, the weight crushing his body suddenly lifted, his vision clearing and his lungs expanding with oxygen. Feeling a wave of dizziness wash over him, Nico waited for it to pass. Well until he felt a breeze ruffle his skull t-shirt, making him realize that he was no longer in the labyrinth. His heart rate sped up.

Getting his face out of the earth, Nico rolled onto his back to see the sky merely inches away from his face, making him flinch at its proximity. It hung over him ominously, making the son of Hades involuntarily shiver. He would never be able to look at the sky the same way ever again. Not that he wouldn't already though, but still. That was WAY too close for comfort for the ghost king.

Rolling back onto his stomach, Nico lifted his head to peer around, trying to locate the others. He shuffled around awkwardly, moving practically as fast as a snail. He felt pathetic and helpless, not seeing anything or anyone but the grass and the creeptastic sky looming over him.

As if his thoughts were heard, the sky lifted a little more, allowing Nico to now crawl. He silently thanked whatever was keeping the sky from making him a human pancake. But then he stopped, worry creeping over him. What was holding up the sky? Was it magic?

But then a terrible thought entered his mind: were they at the mountain, the place that the seven had been trying to get too?

With that thought, his mind flew to Percy. Knowing him, the son of Poseidon was probably being the hero he was and bearing the weight for them.

And it would explain why Tartarus had tried so hard to stop them.

'This idea better be wrong, kelphead.' Nico grumbled to himself.

He had to find him, and find him fast.

But before the younger demigod could start properly searching, he heard something calling ut. "Percy!" A voice yelled. Nico could hear the pain in the person's voice. "Nico! Somebody help!"

When Nico realized who it was, his eyes widened. "I'm coming!" He called out, half running/crawling towards the general direction of the voice. He drew his sword, the black iron humming with darkness.

After a few agonizing minutes of stumbling his way around, Nico saw a figure in the distance, curled up in a fetal position. He picked up the pace, stumbling towards the person.

"Annabeth!" He dropped next to the daughter of Athena, whose face was contorted in pain. "Are you ok?"

"My ankle." She gestured toward the ankle she had busted during her time in Tartarus. "Its strained again."

Nico didn't know what to do. He could use an Apollo demigod right now, or a good chunk of ambrosia. But instead, all he had was himself and perhaps a magic staff, but it drained way too much energy. The last thing the group needed was a passed-out person to look after in an unknown place. So even if he found Kaite, her staff wouldn't be any help.

"Find Clarisse." She panted.

'Clarisse?" Nico thought with confusion. 'Why her?' Being a daughter of Ares, Nico concluded that she wouldn’t know much about healing at all. But instead of questioning her, he nodded. "I'll get back as soon as possible."

"Thanks." Annabeth said, laying her head down and closing her eyes. She looked very stressed, making Nico feel a pang of guilt as he awkwardly half-runned away, his heart feeling heavy in his chest. Was he the cause of her stress?

'Don't be stupid, dummy.' His head snapped at himself. 'Percy's straight. Why would she be worried about that?'

His mind jolted out of his thoughts when a painfully weak voice called out his name.

"N...Nico..."

Nico's eyes widened when he saw Percy standing there, knees shaking and arms quivering with effort as the son of Poseidon held up the sky, his streak of grey in his hair turning lighter. "Percy!" He gasped.  

His heart dropped when he realized where they were at last. They were at Atlas's mountain. It was the only explanation to why Percy could possibly keep the sky from collapsing onto them.

"Give it to me." Nico ordered the son of Poseidon.

"No Nico..." Percy managed to get out, trembling with the weight upon his shoulders. "You'll die."

"And I’m Zeus." Nico retorted. He glared at the older demigod. "Now hand it over."

Percy bowed his head, breathing heavily. "I'm sorry Nico...I can't give it to you."

Nico become frustrated, making it take everything in his being to not scream at the idiot son of Poseidon. "Gods Percy, why do you have to be the hero all the time?! Give it to me goddamit!" He yelled, throwing his hands in the air. His heart was breaking in half seeing his crush like this.

“Because I have to Nico.” Percy answered, his breath getting shakier and shakier as he bore the impossible weight on his own. Nico could clearly see him getting weaker and weaker, and his heart jumped with alarm when he started to feel Percy’s life force drain from him.

“Why?!” Nico practically yelled into his face, inches away. “Stop trying to be noble and let me help you for once!”

“Its the only way Neeks...I...I promised Hades I would.” Percy admitted.

Nico's mind felt sluggish with confusion, watching Percy with wide eyes. "What do you mean?" What was he saying?

“Nico….you were supposed to die.”

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm so terribly sorry for the long wait. I had time to write, but this was the problem: The Blood Of Olympus. I was introduced to this new ship that comflicted me so much that I needed a little time to figure out where my loyalties lie. But I have figured out the truth: no other ship on this planent can take my heart. In other words, PERCICO IS FOR LIFE.

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